Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens

© MAI / Rex FeaturesThe US volcano may be connected to a semi-molten magma chamber that could fuel a giant eruption.
Is a supervolcano brewing beneath Mount St Helens? Peering under the volcano has revealed what may be an extraordinarily large zone of semi-molten rock, which would be capable of feeding a giant eruption.

Magma can be detected with a technique called magnetotellurics, which builds up a picture of what lies underground by measuring fluctuations in electric and magnetic fields at the surface. The fields fluctuate in response to electric currents travelling below the surface, induced by lightning storms and other phenomena. The currents are stronger when magma is present, since it is a better conductor than solid rock.

Graham Hill of GNS Science, an earth and nuclear science institute in Wellington, New Zealand, led a team that set up magnetotelluric sensors around Mount St Helens in Washington state, which erupted with force in 1980. The measurements revealed a column of conductive material that extends downward from the volcano. About 15 kilometres below the surface, the relatively narrow column appears to connect to a much bigger zone of conductive material.


Jellyfish threaten to 'dominate' oceans

© Y.Taniguchi/Niu Fisheries CooperativeNomura jellyfish are the biggest in the world and can weigh 200kgs.
Giant jellyfish are taking over parts of the world's oceans due to overfishing and other human activities, researchers say.

Nomura jellyfish are the biggest in the world and can grow as big as a sumo wrestler. They weigh up to 200 kilograms and can reach 2 metres in diameter.

Dr Anthony Richardson and his colleagues from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research says jellyfish numbers are increasing, particularly in South East Asia, the Black Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.


Crops may be at risk - Canada frosts the most widespread in recent memory

ice cranberries canada
© REUTERS / Mathieu BelangerFrosted organic cranberries are seen at Canneberges Quebec farm in St-Louis-de-Blandford October 17, 2007.

Winnipeg, Manitoba - The multiple frosts that have blanketed Western Canada in the last week are the most widespread in the top canola-growing province of Saskatchewan in at least five years, the Canola Council of Canada said on Tuesday.

Two overnight frosts last week have already resulted in some Saskatchewan farmers reseeding their canola, a Canadian variant of rapeseed, said Jim Bessel, senior agronomy specialist in the province for the industry group Canola Council.

Other farmers are waiting to see growth signs that would suggest their canola plants have survived the frost, which lasted for up to five hours at a stretch. That new growth is slow to appear with generally cool temperatures holding crop development behind schedule.

"We just don't see a lot of activity happening from a crop development perspective," Bessel said. "(The extent of frost damage) is a really difficult one to call right now ... It's very erratic."

In Manitoba, the frost is the worst in memory for its frequency and area covered, said Derwyn Hammond, the province's senior agronomy specialist for the Canola Council.


UK Met Office Summer Forecast: Drowning Again?

rainy UK summer 2009
© unknown

For the third straight summer, the UK Met Office has forecast hot weather using their state of the art computer models. Summer 2007 and 2008 were complete washouts, ranking as two of the most miserable, rainy summers on record.
31 August 2007
Summer 2007 - a wet season
This summer looks set to have been the wettest since UK rainfall records began in 1914, Met Office figures revealed today This summer looks set to have been the wettest since UK rainfall records began in 1914, Met Office figures revealed today.

29 August 2008
Wet summer could end with a bang
Forecasters at the Met Office are predicting that that final day of the summer could end with heavy rain and thunderstorms affecting some parts of the country this weekend ... Within the UK some local rainfall records have been broken, especially across parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland where flooding severely affected road and rail transport. Provisional rainfall figures show that Northern Ireland had its wettest August since 1914.


Best of the Web: Little Ice Age II, The Sequel?

global cooling earth
© unknown

The lingering cool temperatures being experienced by much of North America has weather forecasters wondering if we are entering a new Little Ice Age - a reference to the prolonged period of cold weather that afflicted the world for centuries and didn't end until just prior to the American Civil War. From historical records, scientists have found a strong correlation between low sunspot activity and a cooling climate. At the end of May, an international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA released a new prediction for the next solar cycle: Solar Cycle 24 will be one of the weakest in recent memory. Are we about to start a new Little Ice Age?

According to the report, Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with a sunspot count well below average. "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78," says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center. This does not mean that we won't feel the results of renewed solar storm activity here on Earth.


US: Alaska's Redoubt still erupting -- quietly

Approximately 50 miles across Cook Inlet, Mount Redoubt stands at a towering 9,000 feet; a steady trail of steam emanating from its peak. Though the last explosive spectacle occurred more than two months ago, the volcano has continued to erupt, going relatively unnoticed.

"As long as there's lava coming out, it's erupting," said Allison Payne, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. "It's just doing it quietly."

Bizarro Earth

India: 10,000 pigeons die of mysterious disease in Sikkim

Over 10,000 pigeons have died due to a suspected bacterial infection in the last one month in Singtam in East Sikkim, according to animal husbandry officials. The number of dead birds could be more since the figure was an estimate given to the officials by local residents, the officials said.

The officials who visited the spot earlier this month have ruled out bird flu but suspect that a bacterial infection caused the deaths. Samples taken from the dead birds were being tested. The residents of the town are worried that the infection could spread to poultry birds if not controlled quickly.

Many claimed that insects had come out when the carcasses were dipped in disinfectant.

Cloud Lightning

Two months of rain in half a day in Britain

It's a sight more commonly seen on the subcontinent, but a swirling tornado can be seen forming in the skies above Britain.

The dramatic image was captured by amateur photographer John Prescott near Bude, Cornwall, yesterday as the tip of the tornado comes close to making contact with the ground.

It comes as torrential downpours and thunderstorms battered Britain over the weekend, with parts of the country seeing two months of rain in half a day.


Flashback Nearly a month's rainfall will soak Britain on Friday

Parts of Britain will be deluged by almost a month's rainfall on Friday, as the abysmal summer weather shows no sign of letting up.

Met Office forecasters have warned that a storm rolling in from the Atlantic will soak South West England, Wales, the West Midlands, London and parts of the South East with more than 1.9in (50mm) of rain.

A spokesman said: "There will be no respite from the miserable summer weather just yet."

Heavy rain and gusting winds are expected, with forecasters predicting that some areas will suffer localised flooding.

South-west England and Wales will bear the brunt of the Friday storms with 50mph winds expected.

Cloud Lightning

Flashback Extreme conditions: What's happening to our weather?

Britain is just a few showers away from recording a record wet summer, at the climax of the most remarkable period of broken weather records in the country's history. All of the smashed records are to do with temperature and rainfall - the two aspects of the climate most likely to be intensified by the advent of global warming.

While no specific event can be ascribed directly to climate change, the sequence of events is strongly suggestive of a climate that is now unmistakably altering before our eyes.